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The Importance of Leadership Within Group Dynamics

As a student who is participating in SHAD Canada’s summer program — one of the many programs that draws together students from diverse backgrounds and interests — I feel incredibly grateful for the learning opportunities within leadership and entrepreneurship.

In this program, students are handed design-thinking challenges related to global problems or are given prompts which would all be addressed through STEAM. As you can imagine, assigning such a task to a group of students would require practices of leadership, communication, and collaboration.

It has only been week 2 of the design-thinking challenge, but it has already been an incredibly transformational experience; here, students directly experience the implications of leadership and what it is like to work within a group. Regardless of anyone’s career path, there are many relevant takeaways from the experience.

Here are some of my personal findings:

Debunking Leadership - What is leadership truly about?

As a campus, we watched Drew Dudley's Ted Talk, which explains how leadership is not always about changing the world. In fact, Dudley points out that all of us have become leaders in many circumstances in our lives; we just haven’t been able to recognize our own leadership in the many actions or gestures we have done.

You might now be curious to know, what exactly is leadership then?

Leadership is about making an impact on other people. It's about making others feel touched, valued, and heard.

In Drew Dudley’s Ted Talk, he describes a “lollipop” scenario where he shows an act of kindness by giving a lollipop to a student who felt very anxious on their first day of university. It turns out, his small act of kindness had actually made a fundamental difference and impact on that student’s life. Surprisingly, leadership isn’t always the glorious and “world-changing” picture we paint it to be. It shouldn’t be something put on a pedestal; it’s not about reaching a level of power, authority, or influence.

Leadership is actually about little lollipop scenarios where ‘ordinary’ people can use their power to make extraordinary changes through impacting a person, one at a time.

Anyone can become a leader by doing what they can to support one another. Even the little acts of trying to make someone’s day with a sweet message or a funny text; those are lollipop moments that are essential to uplifting the people within your community.

Especially within a group project, these little acts are nothing to belittle because they contribute to making a positive atmosphere for you and your groupmates. Prior to even attempting to sit down and take a crack at a problem with your group mates, you’ll need to first learn how to trust your members. This trust cannot be done without lollipop moments where you, as a leader, are either reaching out to others, voicing questions, building on their ideas, and personally showing how you are willing to collaborate and construct something new with them.

As someone who is not necessarily the most outgoing person, I specifically made an effort to listen to others and found ways to practice leadership. Not quite in the form of spearheading the project or anything, but in the simplest ways that I could show support or aid in organization for others.

I’ve done many things outside of my comfort zone:

  1. Reaching out to others who may be more timid

  2. Encouraging others

  3. Simply being the first person to ask the questions that need to be asked

From this experience, I’ve come to realize how leaders do not exactly have to the best at what they do. Leaders are the people who are willing to act like the needle and thread — weaving together the diverse talents and ideas — all for the sake of a unified purpose.

Article Contributors: Katrina Artes, Victoria Huang